Dance In 2-D
edited by Lisa Kraus
For this edition of Write On Dance we wanted to tie in with PDP’s Motion Pictures series, the annual presentation of award-winning dance films and work by area videographers, and so invited the participation of makers and presenters of dance in 2D. Deirdre Towers, artistic director of the Dance Films Association, which partners with PDP in presenting Motion Pictures, is represented here in excerpts from a conversation with Lisa Kraus. Kim Arrow, on the Dance Faculty at Swarthmore College, weaves video with performance in his Quasimodo in the Outback. He offers a provocative essay examining the degrees of separation from live performance that video allows. And Tobin Rothlein, video artist, is co-artistic director of Miro Dance Theatre, along with Amanda Miller. Their mission involves creating “multi-media works which continually exhibit the integration of dance with video.” Tobin kept a web-log during a recent intensive period of work in Europe and graciously consented to let us reprint one “day in the life.”
Deirdre Towers is the artistic director of the Dance Films Association which, along with the Film Society of Lincoln Center, produces the yearly Dance On Camera Festival. She had this conversation with Lisa Kraus in May 2005.
Lisa Kraus: How did you get involved with dance films and DFA?
Deirdre Towers: I went to see Blood Wedding, the Carlos Saura film, in 1980. I was impossible for my date of the evening because I was totally enchanted! That led to really jumping on the bandwagon with both flamenco and dance films, even though when I was in college I started off as a French major. That led me to a class in French film so I was already fascinated with Fellini, Bergman, and a whole generation of filmmakers in the sixties and seventies.
My initial training was piano. The whole reason I got into dance was that I wanted to go to Boston University School of Fine Arts. They had a summer program connected to Tanglewood. As a way of getting around the international auditions for piano, I took a dance course which allowed you to go to all the courses at Tanglewood for free. And I got seduced by watching Ze’va Cohen doing Anna Sokolow’s Rooms and also Clyde Morgan and Carla Maxwell. I, surprised by joy, didn’t expect to go there.
Ten years later when I was working with this pianist, an eccentric who played classical and tangos during the summer, I started doing a documentary on the many faces of tango with cartoons and irreverent and reverent forms of tango and all the ways it’s shown up in film. I came to DFA to get a fiscal sponsorship for this film. And when I came here, Susan Braun, the founder of DFA, asked me to do the newsletter. So I started in 1981.
So you’ve made films yourself?
I’ve had 3 million ideas and I rarely finish them. My potential is really more as a scriptwriter. I always think more from the point of view of what can be done, or isn’t this fascinating?
I had started dancing late and I had encouragement for being a choreographer. I got pulled into film because of what it could allow me as a choreographer to do and I’ve been quietly going to school here for 20 years.
What are the possibilities film offers for dance?
Film offers the switches in time and location and the way you can set up any one idea. So what I was fascinated by in dance was expressing what you can’t say in words, but then what I was fascinated by in film was what the film could provide that the dance couldn’t.
So many choreographers have wild ambitions when you read, say, the description of what the choreographer is trying to achieve. Often it seems too loaded for what you can do as a choreographer onstage. But what film allows is that in three seconds or thirty seconds you can provide many contextual cues.
You can really cover so many psychological or philosophical or environmental ideas whereas onstage you’re lucky if you can communicate one or two. Everything else is the kinetic sensuality, or virtuosity. Maybe it’s just how I digest dance performances. I have a very un-intellectual approach when I go to dance. I just want to enjoy the dance and often I really don’t care.
With film you can set up so many different possibilities whether abstract or historical. It’s just amazing how you can balance what can be done with the body and the great big world out there, whether it’s real or created in Photoshop. There is so much that can be done now!
I was just reading Ian McEwan’s Saturday. It’s just one day in the life of a neurosurgeon and it follows how, because he’s so brainy, he’s aware of what he’s thinking all the time. So that’s what the book does, it registers all his thoughts and reactions and his intellectual and emotional ways of deciphering any one moment.
There are ways to convey so much like that with film that you can’t with dance, so the dancer can be free to dance but cover so many different moods and tempos and colors and be in a real world, in an abstract world, and back and forth. That’s why I’m here even though I’m often amazed that hardly anybody does dance films the way I would do them. But so what. I’m always amazed when somebody finishes because it’s so damn hard and expensive.
How do filmmakers successfully adapt dances for the screen?
I keep thinking that dance film is a rudimentary form. Much as I love Blood Wedding it’s a rarity that you can film dance in such a way that it’s better than the performance. The thing about Blood Wedding is that it really was very basic in that it was just an adaptation of a dance. There was enough complexity though, and the choreography itself was cinematic, playing with time. It starts with a wedding but then there’s a flashback and a flash-forward. Then there are plays in time within the choreography so you’re wondering in the knife scene: did the camera slow down? Or is the dance in slow motion? So there’s a joining of sensibilities there. It gives a real appreciation of the mobility of thought that the audience can do and also how the camera adds volume and intimacy where needed. And sometimes it pulls back to be very detached and just get beautiful shots moment by moment.
What about dance film that isn’t an adaptation from a stage piece?
Have you seen Black Spring? It’s a new film shot in Nigeria that goes in between the dancers, who are both black and white. Some of their movement looks post-modern. Some of it looks deep dark Africa. There are moments when the main character is lying down and you see her stream of thought, you see her running through the fields.
Here’s a case where the dance is familiar: either you’ve seen traditional African dance or you’ve seen post-modern Cunningham dance but what you haven’t seen is through the mind’s eye of a woman, her life, the life outside the studio. And studio is just a dirt black box. So in this case the dance becomes the abstraction. It’s the sanctuary, it’s cool, it’s quiet, and she’s alone. Outside it? this amazing theater, a barrage of colors and Muslims; it’s through the dance with no words that you get a sense of a whole culture, and the poetry.
So that’s why I’m saying it’s not just literally a dance film “now we’re going to have a camera on the dancers” or the other extreme, which is what happens in so many dance films where there’s no dance and you have the person in a gorgeous location with flowing hair and you’re thinking: “Is this some shampoo ad? Are they selling Calvin Klein? Is this an advertisement for a travel company to buy a bungalow?”
Can you say something about the films screened in this year’s Motion Pictures?
There’s The Cost of Living by Lloyd Newson who was originally interested in psychology in school. His company DV8 has done four very impressive award-winning programs, and all of them are adaptations. Even though anyone who watches television or films knows there’s a big difference between those mediums and a play for the stage, generally the dance world doesn’t realize that. So “Dance in America” or even my beloved “Blood Wedding” was still shot in the studio.
What Newson’s Enter Achilles, Dead Dreams of Monochrome Men, Strange Fish and now The Cost of Livingall do is that they take it out of the stage into an environment. Cost of Living flows through a variety of environments and it has a seamless feeling. It doesn’t feel like it, going from scene to scene.
There’s the concept of visual grammar. We’re all trained that a paragraph needs to have a thought and we need to complete the thought to have a new paragraph. That’s what each one of the programs of DV8 is very good with. They make clear what any one idea is before it goes on to another location.
The thing that doesn’t translate well from dance onstage to film is the nature of the way film has developed over the last hundred years. So much about film is on the finesse of the editors. If the flow is broken, that’s why dance film can be so infuriating; you’re not ready for the cut. Or it’s at the exactly wrong place for you and you start to pull away. What Newson does is that he makes it so you’re never thinking about the edit, the flow is never interrupted.
He has become a master of natural movement that leads into a dance without the musical sense of “and now come on the dancing girls.” It flows from one thing to another. Characters come in and come out, some characters stay, but there’s just an excellent use of the mobility of the camera and use of the environment. So often dancers have a terrible time working within the scale of whatever environment they’ve chosen. That has to do with setting up the frame so it’s a psychological as well as physical frame.
What about Clara van Gool? “Riemerswaal”?
Van Gool is a writer and director who worked for Lloyd Newson and did Enter Achilles, one of my favorites by DV8. Her Riemerswaal is part of a series inspired by poems of the sea. Here’s a case where it probably got to me because I love the sea. I love the sound of the water. Apparently it is a very well known sound recordist who was brought on board. Once again the Europeans have more money for all this so there’s attention to details like the sound design or just the clarity of the underwater photography.
I thought that the movement they did have, as economical as it was, very fun and also surprising. One of my favorite moments is when the two characters simulate the look of mermaids or dolphins that are swimming, shooting sideways, the look of them moving through the water. That’s the sort of thing you only need to see for fifteen seconds.
Some people found that a disturbing film, with violence against women. I guess I got seduced by the sea again. It had a beginning middle, end, it set some mood and it’s true to the poem I thought.
How about the beginnings of DFA? How did it start?
It was started in 1956 by Susan Braun who was upset that there were no films of her favorite dancer, Isadora Duncan. It was an era where the whole idea of preservation was new and dances didn’t routinely get filmed. She did many catalogs along the years so she also was the Google of the day.
She started the first Dance Film Festival in 1971, so now it’ll be in its 35th yr. A lot of what she started is still in place so DFA has the opportunity to come up with new initiatives.
We have 200 to 300 new entries for Dance On Camera each year now and we encourage everyone to enter their information into our online database. We want to include films for rental and sale from around the world. I’ve been getting a little more hands-on with film production and this could be an exciting way for DFA to develop in the future. We have post-production funds that we’re trying to build further too so we can fiscally sponsor more diverse projects.
Wonderful. Any final thoughts?
What dance film can provide is something where the camera brings you into a choreographer’s work so that you appreciate how rich their original idea was. Or it builds on the dancer. It plays on who and what they are, what they want to express by going from the dancer to what’s in their head that we wouldn’t see if we were just watching, whether it’s a dancer from Kansas or it’s a dancer from China. Something that gives us the poetry in their mind as well as in the body, so it’s really mind/body/spirit.
To learn more about the Dance Films Association visit www.dancefilmsassn.org
Reconstitution of the Flesh: Videography
By Kim Arrow
In Dancing the Impossible: Choreography for the Camera in January Dance Magazine,Lisa Kraus writes “What would be impossible onstage is exactly what choreographers, filmmakers, and media artists seek to create in dance for the camera.” The problem for me is not in creating the impossibly staged for the camera, but in constructing a virtual stage for a lived possibility. If the whole world is a stage, the camera must discriminate.
In spring of 2000 I began work on Quasimodo in the Outback, a videography that took me three years to complete. My goal was simple: I wanted to create videography I could integrate in a staged performance that didn’t draw attention to the technology itself—and away from the choreography. I had seen a few productions I felt did this; most notably two motion-capture works—Merce Cunningham’s Biped and Bill T. Jones’ Ghostcatchers.
What was inherent in the motion-capture technology that seemed to solve some of the problems I have experienced as a viewer of dance for the camera? What other technologies might also contribute to particular solutions to the problems of integration in staged performance? After first acknowledging the general distrust of the dance community for technology as an integral element in a work, Richard Povall tells us in an essay titled A Little Technology Is a Dangerous Thing, in Moving History/Dancing Cutlures: A Dance History Reader, Ann Dils and Ann Cooper Albright, editors, that interactive technologies are not only a creative part of the performance, but are constitutive of the environment itself—they’re not only the space in which the performance takes place, but they’re the instruments the performer plays.
Regardless of the technology, the question I asked myself was how can the camera reproduce the body without sacrificing its fleshy immediacy in performance?
After watching a group of Australian aboriginals walk on the far side of the river that cuts through Alice Springs, I decided one way might be to make a dance about the question itself: about various degrees of corporeality in performance produced by video projection.
Quasimodo in the Outback evokes themes of sanctuary, origins and dialogism (a speaking through disparate images, icons and cultural meanings). That day in Alice I was thinking how odd it was that the group of aboriginals walking under the dry eucalyptus trees on the far bank appeared to be floating, I couldn’t really notice the usual pulse of gravity coursing through their skeletal frames.
Embodiment. I had been in Australia long enough to easily recognize the standard signs of a marginalized culture within mainstream towns and cities. But why I wondered, despite the naturalizing tendency of myself as an outsider to imagine an indigenous culture at home in ‘their environment’, did this group of men and women seem to me to be more a part of the air than the land? Knowing that this impression clearly had to do with my own perception than the reality, I nevertheless imagined how easily it might be for the mainstream white culture to begin the process of desensitization to the conditions of a people by visual erasure—looking around, looking past, looking through. Also, I imagined what would be the physical effect on a people who have to varying degrees— legally, figuratively, emotionally, and bodily—lost their land and with it so much of their culture and identity.
Embodiment equals gravity, blood, flesh, needs, pain, ecstasy, shared experience in a common body. For Quasimodo I found it useful to link two concepts—which, in turn, in making the dance, unite form and content: 1) varying degrees of embodiment in dance performance using projected images and, 2) varying degrees to which ‘the other’ is visually erased from the mainstream environment (and from our collective consciousness). It became clear to me that by removing embodiment from the body—by abstracting the body, it is more easily possible to confuse the symbol for the object, or confine the notion of the body in epithet.
Starting from the full physical ‘presence’ of the body and progressing toward the body’s total abstraction, I identified eleven degrees of remove: I explore these degrees of remove in the dance as a metaphor for how social bodies are rarefied or ‘otherized.’ This is where form and content meet, both for the purposes of my choreography and also for this article. In choreographing these eleven steps I develop the themes of my dance, by reviewing them here I wish to suggest the importance of acknowledging the power of iconicity and the visual image. According to Teresa de Lauretis in her book Alice doesn’t: feminism, semiotic, cinema, linguistic signs are mediated, coded, and symbolic, whereas through iconicity (the articulation of meaning to images), images are immediate, natural, directly linked to reality—and, for me, I read ‘the body’. As a videographer, I am interested in how the ‘reality’ of the body wants to speak through the mediated language of the icon.
Eleven degrees of remove from embodied performance for video:
1) The dancer performs live on site (a specific environmental context).Since this is not a performance on a stage, the question of the 4th wall (that imaginary wall separating the performer from the audience), does not come into play: the dancer’s body is integrated in its context opposed to performing a theatrical personae. (This said, acknowledging the rich body of theory and methods various choreographers and directors have used to conceptualize the 4th wall in performance);
2) The dancer performs live on the proscenium stage: the physical body constrained by the conventional ‘vision’ of the theatrical image—the use of ‘constrained’ here referring to the perceptual divide (one remove from embodiment) between performer and audience (the fourth wall).
3) The dancer performs live with video projection of the dancer on site in the environment: the live body constrained by representation of itself in a naturalized environment represented—‘constrained’ here referring to the power of seduction of the projected image over the live performer on stage.
4) The dancer performs live on the proscenium stage with video projection of that dancer’s stage performance: a mirror effect with one image being more real, the other more desirable; constrained similarly to #3.
5) The projected representation (in the theater) of the dancer on site sans live performer—the ‘re-presented’ body in a ‘natural’ context re-presented.
6) The projected representation of the dancer performing in the theater sans live performer—the ‘re-presented body seen through the 4th wall re-presented.
7) The dancer performs live with a motion-capture image of him/herself with imported form: the motion-capture image mitigated by the presence of the live performing body—embodiment restrained by motion capture technology which is half-way between live and animation.
8) The projection of the motion-capture image of the performer sans live performer—unmitigated by the presence of the performer as in #7.
9) The projection of animation of the contextualized (subject of the choreography) performer mitigated by the presence of live performers on stage— In Quasimodo, this was accomplished by a musician’s recitation of bols (East Indian rhythmic syllables) set to the movement of the animated figure, in a sense breathing life into the animation.
10) The projection of animation of the contextualized performer sans live performer—total re-presentation of the body, animation here representing complete constraint of embodiment.
11) The projection of fully abstract reflection of a performative element or elements of the dancer—the disappearance of the body in the projection of abstract videographic forms.
While classical ballet sought to dance weightlessly, unhindered by this earth, modern dancers fought to stay on it, dancing barefoot to feel it. Video images dancing are super-charged, searching this world and others for a stage to land on, hopefully these images will land with all the embodied weight of a barefoot dancer.
Tobin Rothlein wrote the following introduction to the one-day excerpt from his blog, reprinted below:
I just recently returned from the first two months of an Independence Foundation Fellowship in London, England. I was working with Mathew Sharp, a concert cellist and opera singer (Baritone), and Pete Wyer, a composer and classical guitarist. Together they direct SharpWire, a chamber music theatre / opera group which explores new forms within the field. The fellowship was designed to enable research into applying my work with video and dance into the opera field. . This first period was done in residency at the Battersea Arts Centre (BAC). The results of our work and experimentation would be shown at the end of the period in what is called a scratch performance. The scratch performance allows companies to present work to a paying audience with the understanding that they are seeing a work in development, often times a collection of ideas- it is up to the company to decide how they use the format. The audience then provides feedback by written response sheets and discussions following the performance in the BAC Bar. The “scratch performance” originated by BAC, is now being used in various venues throughout the UK.
Our show was called Saccades and Fixations. The title is taken from the medical terminology for the way in which we see. Saccades are rapid movements of the eye (in which we are blind) and fixations are the points within that blindness that make up what we actually see. We began the project with the rich material of the Oedipus myth, the science of vision, and the idea of the love triangle.
We were joined on the project by Soprano Helen Withers, Playwright Stephanie Young , and American (Philadelphian) Choreographer and Dancer Amanda Miller (in London on fellowship with Siohbann Davies, sponsored by Dance Advanced, a program of the Pew Charitable Trust).
The fellowship and the project are slated to continue in the fall at Opera North in Leeds, England, and then move directly into full production.
May 5, 2005
Today was day three working intensively on Saccades. The two singer/ performers (Matt and Helen) read lines together, singing and speaking. We did this in a busy cafe resembling a train station (the location of the script) and I did videotape, in extreme close up mostly, trying to capture some of the raw, docu-quality of this first reading. Present was myself, Stephanie (the playwright), Matt and Helen. As things start to make sense, other things become more confused. I am finding, with the nature of my work developing to a place where much of the idea is outside of the projection, it becomes tricky to find one’s role within the collaborative process. At the same time the process is extremely useful in helping me to clarify ideas and choices. This morning I started reading through a very impregnable and academic study on Saccades and Fixations of the human eye. I had tried reading this previously, but found it completing alienating and moved on to more accessible accounts. But this morning, seeing the PDF was still on my desktop, I opened it and read it. Strangely, text within the text emerged for me, along with a sort of rhythm to the impregnability of the writing—that was enthralling. I was involved in my own series of cognitive saccades and fixations, roaming over the text, absorbing it for its sound qualities and rhythm, and then fixating on moments that related to me, words relating to space, and speed, rapidity, language describing movement, sound, and imagery—embedded in the text. I started imagining the text being used in the show, as a foundation or backdrop for dance, sound, and imagery. the vision in my mind was strong, and there was something very pleasing about this. When at the meeting today, I needed to explain this idea to others, I found myself at a verbal bottleneck. I was unable to explain this to the others in that moment, in relation to the pages of dialogue we had just explored with Stephanie. She then asked me what the emotion was that I wanted people to get from this idea, or the feeling from which this idea came. A fantastic question, that frustrated me because I could not answer it easily. I eventually responded that it came from a place of no feeling. Then proceeded to a place of cold analytical self-examination. A viewing glass into a structure behind the piece we are creating. The idea of rapid searching and momentary fixation on an acute idea, and then a return to rapid searching—the saccades—the blind moments of searching in which we do not see and do not notice that we do not see. This is the key framework we are working within for the show conceptually (in my mind), and it is important that people (the audience) are let into that idea. Then I thought of the article on atheism and agnostics that was in The Guardian last week. The writer told the story of a beautiful religious painting on a brick wall. The painting was so beautiful and lifelike, that people began to worship it as if it were real. Because of this, the artist then took a brick out of the wall, creating a gap in the painting. It was at this point that the people could appreciate the beauty of the painting…its existence as a painting and not reality had been established. From here I was led to the idea that my interest may be in the idea of juxtaposing the language of science against the realm of emotions, or the practice of trying to place emotion within that scientific construct. That maybe the incompatibility of the two opposing languages, the language of feelings and the language of science, was what interested me – the non-negotiable nature of these two realities – the insistence of people to fit one within the framework of the other. This relates to the idea of seeing—it relates to those hard moments of self – evaluation, where we try to fit the complexities of our selves and of our world into a reasonable and scientific container. The questioning of my idea was very helpful to me – and reinforced for me the importance of process.
I am going to work on putting this idea together over the next few days. Amanda will dance to the text (I think), on video, and then phrases or elements of the dance will resonate in more pedestrian staging with Matt and Helen (live). I will talk to Pete about what he thinks music will do here. I think I will also need to explore more about where the singers can move without the alteration of the singing. Yesterday, I was asking Matt and Helen lots of questions as to this. They were explaining to me that at certain moments the singer needs to support the vocalization with the body, so the positioning is important. They need to have some way through the musculature to support the note. So the singing needs to be negotiated with the movement. In other words, the singing really dictates the scope of movement possibilities at any given time. It seems that breath also plays a big role in this. What is great is that Matt and Helen are both more than willing to explore the extents to which movement can co exist with the singing. I look forward to learning more about this. Matt also talks a lot about the register of the singing. I will ask him more about this.
We spent a lot of time the day before yesterday really tackling concept. How can we draw different ideas together? Oedipus Rex, The ex lover conversation in the train station, and the saccades and fixations of the human eye are the three strands that we narrowed down too. We found the common thread to be sight. For me the television, or the image within the television, represented the weight of what we do not know. This tied in to the myth and the conversation. The pivot point, or shared climax of the strands, becomes the blinding of Oedipus, at the point at which he “sees” and the act of seeing or realization between the lovers in the train station, and of saccades-or moment of blindness-in the human function of sight. I am wondering if the piece could follow an experimental dramatic structure to reflect this. Instead of the classic dramatic arc, it would take the shape of a dramatic spiral, which would spin out from the center, the moment of blindness, towards the exposition and abstract non linear chapters that lead up to it.
Spent a chunk of the day yesterday going over Sophocles Oedipus Rexwith Matt. We basically stepped through translating into modern day English and situations, and identifying possible duets, solos, etc. I am interested in focusing on the confrontation between Tiresius and Oedipus, hopefully for this upcoming scratch performance, with Tiresius on video and Oedipus on stage. Matt came up with the idea that he play both parts, (we were considering having Helen do the role), and I think this makes great sense, because it then becomes an inner dialogue or confrontation between what we know and don’t know about our selves. Did Oedipus, on some level, know his true ancestry and situation- deep in his sub-conscious? Could the blind seer be a part of the seer who is blind? This should be interesting to explore. I imagine we will start with a rough recording, sort of video pencil sketch, and pick up again with the idea in Leeds this fall.
As the scratch performance draws near, I find myself more and more at a strange artistic crossroads. Questioning much of the theatrical conventions that are taken as a given.
As we are using the scratch performance as a sharing of early ideas in a process with a test audience, we will be presenting what we are working on in a very informal manner. I think it will be interesting to see what develops, and which, if any of the informal conventions may have usefulness in the final production.
Saw two performances at BAC last night. The Creation of the Violin, and In Search of Cellonetta ( I think that is what it was called)
The Creation of the Violin piece was interesting material. As it was a scratch he started by speaking casually to the audience about his passion for the violin, how it was the inspiration for the piece-and then filled us in on some background on the violin and its origins. The house lights were up and it was very engaging. After maybe 7 minutes, he concluded, signaled to the technician, and the house lights faded out. I couldn’t help feeling like a portion of the passion, or the engaging quality of the material faded out as well. I wonder if there is a way, as the piece develops he could keep that quality in the piece. He even changed his manner once the lights descended. He started with a story of gypsy fiddlers and his violin, which was beautiful-and then he sort of disappeared into the background, while some physical actors took on the bulk of the storytelling until the violin was birthed through a transformation of some kind, and he played live violin, which was again unique and engaging. What really interests me is that the pre show talk, a necessity of the scratch show, held in it the spark of magic that could really bring that show to life. A moment I also liked was when he handed his violin, I presume a pretty expensive and precious object, to a woman in the front row. He asked her to hold it for him until the point in the show where he would play it. Maybe he knew the woman, or it was planned? don’t know, but in my mind she was a random audience member who he engaged in a spontaneous act of trust and inclusion. It was somewhat magical.
As I write about it now, it reminds me of the Jewish practice of letting a congregant hold the Torah. This happened to me once in a conservative synagogue in New York. It was my first time ever being there, and this object was placed into my arms, precious and sacred-and it is hard to describe the feeling of it. I wondered if the woman in the front row had that same sort of feeling. A tactile inclusion and connection to the source of the show she was watching.
It was truly fascinating what went into the creation of the violin and the history of it. I would love to see that piece in a year’s time.
Random thoughts from past days
This past weekend spent time in Horniman Gardens. They are beautiful, and just down the street from the flat we are staying in. There is a large lawn, which is perched on the hill overlooking Battersea. Because the weather was nice, people had brought their lives to this lawn. What was amazing was that there was all this private drama playing out. A lovers break up, with tearful proclamations and embraces, on the blanket to our right. Behind us two groping lovers were interlocked in a clothed straddle to the consternation of the Eastern European family further down the lawn. (They shouted something about getting a room, in heavy accent). A young boy, spiraling outward from the Eastern Europeans, was in a repeating cycle of running through the grass until, due to his own increasing acceleration, he tripped over his own feet and skid face first -continue on crawling for a moment-get up-repeat. The group seemed to be engaged in communal parental consultation on what the boy should do next. This culminated in him being handed a racket, with which he had no idea what to do, so he immediately began circling about waving it perilously in his one hand until it became a strange cantilever which magically enabled him to stay upright for more prolonged periods of time- although with constant imminent threat of sideways collapse. A middle aged “nutter”(as they call them here.) was walking in his own erratic pattern— stumbling forward with a strange, leg shaking, limp, and then settling on the ground where he would lay blissfully motionless (and seemingly sane). At one point he became urgently fascinated with a group of school age kids playing center of the lawn, motioning for them to include him in their game, but then lost interest, twittered in an erratic bee-like line, and settled again on a bench in the shade at the top of the hill. Behind us to the right, a mother and daughter were in a deep and silent conversation-mostly of the eyes and body. I never saw them speak to each other. The teen’s head was angled down, hair over her face, and the woman had her back angled toward me, but the air was thick in-between them. It was a strange teen to adult duet. The girl looked angstly out from pink strips of hair, and her mother leaned forward, emanating concern. The woman seemed ever aware of the young boy (a son?) who was hovering mid lawn, between the mother daughter duet, and a man (father? lover?) on the far side of the lawn. They had started—upon our arrival, together, as a quartet. This had digressed to two duets, on opposite sides of the lawn, and then duet, solo, solo. etc. At the resolution of this lawn dance there is a hesitant approach by the young boy, resulting in a welcoming hug from the woman. The pink-stripped hair girl emphatically looks away. The man still stands watching from the far side of the gardens. The woman, girl and boy begin slow procession across the lawn, and follow behind the man as he exits through a gate in the fence near where he stood. We’ll never know what their story was.
The clothed straddling lovers are maneuvering into a very questionable position. Everyone looks away.
Two women with Caribbean accents are laughing – something about marriage and their boyfriends.
The troubled couple has settled into a tragic tableau, the girl gazing away, and the man resignedly gazing into the back of her head.
The sun heads down and the park empties.
At moments it had felt like a series of living rooms with invisible walls
There is a definite choreography to the park, or movement dynamic. Definitely want to explore it more at some point.
Twilight of the Gods–watched all 5 and a half hours. Moments of brilliance. Too much to write about now. 1:32 am and my eyes are falling. More on that in a future entry.Published on October 1, 2007 – 12:00am